Patriots prepare for season

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pike Liberal Arts runs through defensive drill at a practice. (Photo/Wes Johnson)

For the fourth time in five seasons, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots will have a new head coach. This one, however, won’t be a new face.

Bob Pickett will move up one chair on the Patriot bench to assume the head coaching duties for the 2011-12 season and said he feels optimistic about the direction the program is headed.

“I feel good about this team,” he said. “They have a positive attitude and work really hard.”

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Pike is coming off a 5-19 campaign but with seven seniors, Pickett feels leadership should not be an issue.

“This team plays hard. They listen and work together.”

With several upperclassmen, the Patriots will be looking to earn a berth in the playoffs in 2012, a feat they failed to accomplish last season.

“Obviously, our goal is to compete and win our area tournament and make the playoffs,” Pickett said. “We have some good athletes that can do it.”

Of the seven seniors, two of them are starters in Tanner Free and Stewart Pinkard. Free will play in the low post while Pinkard can move from guard to forward.

“Stewart can move around a little for us,” said Pickett. “If we need to we can slide him down low.”

Free is the Patriots most physical player at 6-1, 240 pounds.

The main cog for Pike will again by Chandler Avant. The point guard started last season as an eighth grader.

“The offensive will run through Chandler but we are putting an emphasis on moving the ball around,” Pickett said.

While ball movement will be key for the Patriots offensively, the real key for Pickett will be defense.

“We want to play tough defense and rebound well,” he said. “If we play 32 minutes and play hard for that time, good things will happen.”

Pickett said pressure on opposing offenses will also be a factor and runs what he calls an ‘organized chaos’ style defense.

The team will use an eight man rotation if possible. Bryan Adams and Mile Loving join Pinkard, Free and Avant as the projected starters.

Picket said he will use senior Alex Tillery off the bench at the guard position.

The Patriots open the season Nov. 21 at home against Patrician.